VANCOUVER — Being a sixth-overall draft pick comes with a tonne of freight, and if you’re not careful the weight will crush you.
There are immense expectations and scrutiny, and constant comparisons to the 200 players drafted after you. The sixth-overall pick who falters is greeted not so much with criticism as derision.
Jake Virtanen? We’ll see. But we’re talking in this case of Vancouver Canuck teammate Sam Gagner, who probably saved his National Hockey League career last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“There isn’t a playbook,” Gagner, 28, said about navigating the violent turns in his career the last three years. “If someone had told me at 18 that when I’m 26, I was going to clear waivers and go to the minors, I wouldn’t have been happy about it. But having gone through it and come out the other side, and now being back, I wouldn’t trade it. It has really allowed me to grow as a person and a player and allowed me to handle the adversity of the season. Even in your best season, there will be some adversity.”
So imagine what it’s like in the bad seasons.
Gagner, who is from London, Ont., appeared on his …read more